So I’m full fling in VBS. I mean, I bought a muscle suit and troll wig from Party City to play the part of the up front cartoonish puppet man who jumps on a small trampoline and does ridiculous dance moves to mediocre Cokesbury songs (Am I a man? Or am I a Muppet?). Let me tell you I am FAMOUS this week among pre-schoolers.
And yet in between the opening and closing of VBS I’ve had some crazy pastor stuff that has just left me in a whirlwind of extreme emotions. It’s sort of how the Christian life, and certainly ministry life, can be…one minute you’re having a good time with the kids and another moment you are deeply mourning a great loss. It’s funny, it’s heartbreaking, it’s meaningful, it’s meaningless.
If Jesus is going to make any difference in my life, let alone the life of these 200 kids showing up every day to our Vacation Bible School, I think I need to go off-script…past the cheesy, goofy entertainment meant to pump kids up. It feels like most VBS curriculum is designed to teach kids, “See, church is fun so you should come to church more!” I’m not saying that I should get up there in my ridiculous costume and say, “Hey kids, life is hard. People die and terrible things happen. So you should take Christ seriously.” That’s not developmentally appropriate. Or responsible.
I do think I’ll spend my last few sessions of VBS re-writing the script, though. To make it more clear that all these cool catchphrases we use for a week should point us to a real hope, that the stories we’ve been learning about show us a God who loves people just like us. That there really is Someone worth coming back for. No matter how far away from God we feel, we can rest in the peace that our names remain written in the palm of God’s hand. It’s not impossible to translate theology to kids. It’s not impossible to use curriculum as a way to go deeper with kids. It just takes time, thought and prayer.
I don’t know what I’ll say to the kids tomorrow in my giant foam muscle suit. For tonight, I’m going to sit in the dissonance of my life right now and contemplate what God’s got to say to me first…